Week 2 Vocabulary in Context
Imagine that your grandmother sees you trying on your new Cleveland Cavaliers jersey. She makes approving sounds and smiles to show that she thinks you look terrific. You probably expect Grandma to say something pleasant, such as “That jersey looks great on you!” Instead, she touches the sleeve, grins and says “Groovy threads baby! Huh? Did she just insult you or compliment you??? You know it was a compliment by the clues she gave you, her smile, the approving sounds she made and the cheerful tone of her voice.
Figuring out the meanings of difficult words in a reading passage is lot like figuring out whether or not your grandma was complimenting you. You can learn the meaning of a written word by paying attention to its context. In reading, context means the surrounding words and sentences.
Example: Never one to give up, Margo worked tenaciously to land an audition for a part on Duffy the Dragon Slayer, and her tireless efforts finally paid off. What is the meaning of the word tenaciously as it is used in the sentence? A. lazily Using context clues helps you easily identify what tenaciously means! B. curiously C. hesitantly D. diligently
TIPS TO DETERMINE MEANINGS OF UNKNOWN WORDS: TIP ONE:Look for other words in the passage that have meanings similar to the unknown, underlined word. Many celebrities prefer to maintain privacy during intimate celebrations and family gatherings. Singer and actress J. Lo often recedes from public view to socialize with friends and relatives. Preparations for her star-studded wedding were covert, and organizers were able to keep the details hidden from the press until last minute. What is the meaning of the word covert? Secret Flashy Gossipy detailed
TIP TWO:Look for causes and effects related to the unknown word. No one ever thought that LaSalle High would beat City, so when it finally happened, the LaSalle fans were euphoric. (How do fans usually feel when their team defeats another that seems hard to beat?) Which word is closest in meaning to euphoric as it is used in the example sentence? Satisfied Overjoyed Challenged embarrassed
TIP THREE:Look for clues showing that the unknown word fits into a category. Though not as common in Ohio as barn owls, sparrows, doves, and blue jays, the towhees are fascinating to watch. (The items listed, barn owls, sparrows, doves, blue jays, towhees, all fit into what category?) What is a towhee? Type of tree A television program A kind of bird A special performance
TIP FOUR: Look for clues that point to the opposite meaning of the unknown word. * Words such as but, despite, although, surprisingly, not, etc…tend to signal a shift in the logic of the passage. Such words can hint at what a vocabulary word doesn’t mean. When Mr. Carrier first arrived in Picketsville, the townspeople thought he was a fine, upstanding, honest gentleman, but time soon showed him to be an absolute rogue. (What words mean the opposite of rogue?) What is the meaning of the word rogue as it is used in the passage? Wise elder Popular leader Untrustworthy person Mysterious newcomer
TIP FIVE: Don’t be fooled by a multiple-meaning word. Go back to the passage to see how it is used. The audience of scientists was curious about how the guest lecturer would treat the controversial topic of the possibility of extraterrestrial life. What is the meaning of the word treat as it is used in the passage? To pay another’s expenses To care for or deal with medically A gift that offers delight or amusement To deal with a subject in speech or writing
TIP SIX: Plug in the answer choices to see which one makes the most sense in the sentence. Louisa’s scathing comments about her opponent during the debate did not win her any votes. Most of the audience was turned off by her bitter attacks-even though the substance of what she said was true. In this paragraph, what does the word scathing mean? neutral harsh supportive vague * This is a great way to check your work for any answer!
TIP SEVEN:When in doubt, use a dictionary. You can’t do this on a reading test, but it’s a great way to build your vocabulary as you practice.